PORT Moresby is fast becoming a regional sporting hub as the most highly anticipated tournament on the 2016 OFC calendar, the OFC Nations Cup, becomes the latest in a growing list of major events to be held in the Papua New Guinea capital.
The 2016 OFC Nations Cup, which acts as Stage 2 of Oceania’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers, will take place from 28 May-11 June with games to be played at Sir John Guise Stadium and the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.
Worth $30m each, the two stadiums boast world-class facilities which are equipped with broadcast standard floodlights and, at capacity, can house 15,000 of the region’s most fanatic football fans.
With the people of Papua New Guinea still talking about the historic third-place finish of their U-23 men’s side and the women’s fourth consecutive gold medal in the XV Pacific Games, which were held in Port Moresby earlier this year, OFC and PNGFA President David Chung says the domestic profile of the game is set to expand even further.
“I am delighted OFC is bringing the best football the region has to offer to Papua New Guinea,” Chung says.
“In addition to what we can expect on the field, the tournament provides an excellent opportunity to coordinate a large-scale event ahead of the upcoming FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup which we are also hosting in late-2016.”
Along with being the next step on the Road to Russia the Nations Cup offers entry to the 2017 Confederations Cup for the winners, and attracts a global audience thanks to the tournament’s role in the region’s World Cup qualifying pathway.
Tahiti made history at the in 2012 when they beat New Caledonia to become the first Pacific Island nation, outside of Australia and New Zealand, to triumph in the prestigious competition.
For any side chasing their world cup dream, to qualify for the Confederations Cup is an important part of the process as it guarantees at least three matches against top-tier opponents.
The 2016 Nations Cup will be played out between two groups of four teams, with the top two sides advancing to the semi-finals.
Group A is made up of New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and Samoa, who won the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers OFC Stage 1 in September, with the group rounded out by defending champions Tahiti.
Group B contains four-time champions New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.
The top three nations in each group will progress to FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers OFC Stage 3.
The match schedule will be confirmed at a later date.